Legislatures introduced 130 bills related to food facilities, including restaurants, public schools, mobile food trucks, vending machines and retail food establishment, enacting 21 bills.
California A 377 Act No. 2019-536 prohibits a microenterprise home kitchen operation from producing, manufacturing, processing, freezing, or packaging milk or milk products, including, but not limited to, cheese and ice cream. Prohibits a third party delivery service from delivering food produced by a microenterprise home kitchen operation, except to an individual who has a physical or mental condition that is a disability that limits the individual's ability to access the food.
California S 395 Act No. 2019-869 authorizes the Fish and Game Commission to establish, a pilot program for the issuance of wildlife salvage permits, through a user-friendly and cell phone friendly web-based portal developed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to persons desiring to recover, possess, use, or transport, for purposes of salvaging wild game meat for human consumption of, any deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pig that has been accidentally killed.
The Colorado legislature revised provisions relating to the inspection of retail food establishments. H 1014 Act 11 defines an imminent health hazard and details the process for the suspension of a retail food establishment license or certification of license. The state also enacted H 1246 Act 234 regarding mobile food trucks. The law requires a local government to grant a business license to food trucks that have a license from another local government, prohibits local governments from imposing additional licensing requirements, provides that a local government may enforce its sales tax, zoning, and land use regulations and promulgate regulations related to the operation of food trucks in its jurisdiction.
Delaware’s H 79 Act 100 requires food safety standards for restaurants to include a system for requiring healthy beverages to be offered as the default beverage with a combination children's meal.
Similarly, Hawaii’s S 549 Act 138 requires restaurants that sell children's meals that include a beverage to make the default beverage a healthy beverage. SR 82 urges the Department of Health to work with the Hawaii restaurant association to establish industry standards to address unsanitary food handling conditions in food establishments.
Idaho H 151 Act No. 95 revises provisions regarding licensing and other fees for food establishments.
Louisiana’s H 335 Act 372 requires food service establishments serving imported crawfish or shrimp to inform patrons that the seafood is of foreign origin.
Maine enacted the Purchase of Local Produce for Public Schools (S 132 Act 511) which provides funds to the Department of Education to administer the Local Produce Fund, providing a $1 match for every $3 spent by a school administrative unit for produce or minimally processed foods purchased directly from a farmer, farmers' cooperative, or local food hub in the state.
Maryland H 50 Act No. 131 establishes the Produce Safety Program in the Department of Agriculture to reduce the risk of adverse impacts on human health from the consumption of contaminated produce, requires the Program to conform with certain federal standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce for human consumption, defines a covered farm as one which sold produce, over a certain period, with a specified average annual monetary value.
Maryland H 82 Act No. 573 and S 116 Act No 573 alters the Complete Streets Program, adds access to retail stores that provide healthy food and other necessities.
Massachusetts H 4020 Act No. 49-2019 establishes a restaurant promotion commission.
Mississippi H 1206 defines the terms vending machine and micro-market. The bill exempts vending machines and micro-markets, which sell prepackaged food and other food products, from the regulatory authority of the State Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the State Board of Health.
New Jersey’s Healthy Small Food Retailers act (A 2164 Act 15) provides funding to small food retailers to sell fresh and nutritious food, requires the Department of Agriculture to expand the Jersey Fresh website to provide opportunities for the establishment of purchasing networks between farmers, distributors, grantees, and small food retailers. Oklahoma H 1055, Act 138 creates a permit for unattended food establishments, sets forth criteria for food and beverages to be sold, requires signage, sets forth provisions relating to sanitation and security, requires routine service, and the collection of sales tax.
Oregon enacted H 2060 Act 387, which authorizes the State Department of Agriculture to condemn or close a food establishment if authorization to operate has not been obtained or has lapsed.
Utah’s Food Truck Licensing bill amends the state food truck law, clarifies that a political subdivision may not enforce local regulations that conflict with state law, and prohibits a political subdivision from requiring a fee or permit for a food truck to operate on private property or requiring a food truck operator to provide the dates, times and duration of food truck operation. (S 71 Act 260)
Virginia amended its Food Establishments law to define a certified food protection manager and exempts any restaurant operated by a nonprofit civic service organization, a volunteer fire department, or a volunteer emergency medical services agency from any requirement to employ a certified food protection manager. (H 1663 Act 275)
Washington’s Mobile Food Units law (S 5218 Act 185) revises provisions relating to mobile food units, requires a regulatory authority to accept a completed and approved plan review of a mobile food unit of another regulatory authority.
In West Virginia, the legislature enacted the Fresh Foods Act, requiring all state-funded institutions to purchase a minimum of 5% of fresh produce, meat and poultry products from in-state producers if available at an equal or lower cost. (H 2396 Act 12).
Donation of Foods
Food donation, which was a popular bill in 2018, dropped off significantly in 2019, with 34 bills being introduced and six being enacted.
California’s A 614 Act 431 expands an income tax credit for persons defined as responsible for planting a crop, managing the crop, and harvesting the crop from the land, to apply to the donation of qualified donation items, defined as raw agricultural products or processed foods. The law expands the definition of a qualified taxpayer to include the person responsible for growing or raising a qualified donation item, or harvesting, packing, or processing a qualified donation item but would exclude a retailer.
Hawaii adopted SR 26 urges restaurants to donate any leftover food to homeless shelters at the end of their business day.
New Jersey’s A 4701 Act 54 requires the Department of Human Services to establish an electronic portal to promote surplus food donation collaboration among nonprofit organizations, gleaners, and food retailers.
In Washington, the legislature enacted H 1114 Act 255 designed to reduce the wasting of foods.
- The legislature in Massachusetts established a Restaurant Promotion Commission (H 4020 Act 49).
- Hawaii’s S 375 Act 151 requires the state’s Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the governor’s office, to develop a strategic plan to double local food production and increase food exports.
Food Nutrition, Food Deserts, and SNAP
Bills related to food nutrition, food allergens, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) were common in 2019, with 33 being introduced and eight being enacted: 21 bills introduced/three enacted regarding nutrition and food deserts, and 12 introduced/six enacted regarding SNAP.
State legislatures have become much more interested in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aka food stamps. States are looking at ways to expand access to this program, to maximize the amount of federal funds available to the state.
The term ‘food desert’ which was absent from the legislative dialogue a few years back is gaining attention, with states like Indiana, Missouri, Texas and Virginia introducing legislation on the topic. New Jersey enacted legislation in 2019 on food deserts.
California A 419 Act No. 2019-261 e.xtends the repeal date of the industry-funded standardization program for purposes of implementing and enforcing provisions relating to fruits, nuts, and vegetable standards
Hawaii S 390 Act 153 requires the Department of Agriculture to create a dollar-for-dollar matching program for beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program who use their benefits to purchase state-grown produce.
Illinois’ H 3343 Act 110 amends the Public Aid Code by requiring the Department of Human Services to establish a Restaurant Meals Program to permit individuals who are elderly, with a disability, and homeless individuals to redeem their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at private establishments.
The Maryland legislature renamed the Food Stamp Program to be the Food Supplement Program, established a Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) within the Food Supplement Program in the Department of Human Services, authorized a certain household eligible to participate in the RMP to purchase certain foods at restaurants using a food supplement benefit (H 838 Act 475).
New Mexico S 84 Act 152 relates to nutritional services for senior citizens, authorizes the growing and use for food service of fruit and vegetable gardens at senior centers.
In New Jersey, the Food Desert Produce Pilot Program (A 4704 Act 91) directs the state Department of Agriculture to establish a food desert produce pilot program, establishes a program to provide residents in food desert communities with access to fresh and affordable produce.
Labeling of Cell- or Plant-Based Meat
Perhaps the most interesting bills came in regard to cell- and plant-based meats. Beginning with one bill in Missouri in 2018, the issue exploded in 2019 with 60 bills being introduced in 31 states and 17 being enacted. Most followed Missouri’s lead, restricting the term ‘meat’ to products derived from animals harvesting by traditional means.
The legislation uses terms such as “clean meat,” “cell-based meat,” “cell-cultured meat,” or ”lab-grown meat” to refer to artificially-grown muscle or organ cells of animals. Other bills limit the term “beef” and “meat” to products from “cattle born, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.” These bills restrict the term “meat” used by companies producing cell or plant-based products, or in the case of Louisiana and Arkansas, the term “rice.”
Alabama H 518 Act No. 2019-310 provides that a food product containing cultured animal tissue that is produced from animal cell cultures and not derived directly from an animal may not be labeled as either meat or a meat food product. In 2019, certain bills were even more aggressive. Arkansas H 1407 Act 501 Truth in Labeling of Edible Agricultural Products included both meats and rice, banning calling cauliflower rice a “rice” product.
Kentucky’s H 311 Act 42 restricts any food product that purports to be or is represented as meat or a meat product that contains any cultured animal tissue. Kentucky’s HR 105 urges the United States Congress to enact legislation granting the U.S. Department of Agriculture jurisdiction over labeling requirements for imitation meat products.
Like Arkansas, Louisiana S 152 Act 273 addresses truth in labeling requirements of agricultural products, including plant-based meats, rice and soy products; prohibits misbranding or misrepresenting a food product.
Maine enacted H 277 Act No. 455 provides that poultry and poultry products, and meat and meat products sold or offered for sale may not be labeled with a certified state trademark or labeled, advertised as state raised, or by a similar designation unless the poultry and the meat was raised solely in the state.
The law in Missouri (SB 627 and SB 925 (2018)) criminalizes speech by prohibiting the misrepresentation of a product as “meat” if that product is “not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” The state’s department of agriculture promulgated rules implementing the bill, but the plant-based industry challenged the law in court as a restriction on free speech.
In 2019, certain bills were even more aggressive. Mississippi’s S 2922 bans cell-based, insect-based or plant-based foods from being termed as a “meat food product.”
Montana H 327 Act 186 looks to work along with USDA-FDA labeling, since it will allow the word “meat” but require additional notification on the source of the meat. In Oklahoma, the legislature did not ban the word ”meat” as applied to cell or plant-based products, but did prohibit persons from advertising or selling food plans or carcasses from engaging in certain misleading or deceptive practices, meaning that the fact the product came from non-traditional means must be clear. (S 392)
Other bills on labeling of cell- or plant-based meat were enacted in Colorado (HR 1005), North Dakota (H 1400; HCR 3024), South Carolina (H 4245), South Dakota (S 68 Act 181) and Wyoming (S 68 Act 100).
Edible Cannabis and Hemp
With many states permitting the use of medical and recreational marijuana, legislatures have had to look into edible cannabis products. States introduced 67 bills related to edible cannabis in 2019, enacting six, mainly to define what is considered an edible.
In California, “edible cannabis product” means a cannabis product that is intended to be used for human consumption, including chewing gum. An edible cannabis product is not considered food, as defined by Section 109935 of the Health and Safety Code, or a drug, as defined by Section 109925 of the Health and Safety Code. (S 185 Act 841). California also enacted A 420 Act No. 2019-802 which authorizes the California Cannabis Research Program to accept funds that may be used for the study, or support of the study, of the efficacy, mode of action, and safety of cannabis or natural or synthetic cannabinoids as part of medical treatment, and for the dissemination of information to inform health professionals and the public.
Georgia H 324 Act 27 provides for the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil, either cannabis or hemp.
Illinois H 1438 Act No. 27 creates the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, provides that it is unlawful for persons of a certain age to possess, use, and purchase limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, authorizes registered qualifying patients to cultivate limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, provides for the regulation and licensing of various entities and occupations engaged in cultivation, dispensing, processing, transportation, and other activities regarding cannabis for adult use.
Maine enacted H 524 Act 491 which provides that food, food additives or food products that contain adult-use marijuana are not considered to be adulterated under this subchapter based solely on the inclusion of adult-use marijuana.
The Maryland legislature requires the Commission to allow certain processors and processor agents to transport food containing medical cannabis edible cannabis products to an independent testing laboratory (H 17 Act 456).
Nevada A 164 Act No. 371 revises provisions relating to marijuana, imposes certain requirements relating to advertising by a marijuana establishment and a medical marijuana establishment, revises provisions relating to medical marijuana establishment agents, provides for the registration of agents who work or volunteer at or contract with a marijuana establishment, revises provisions relating to disciplinary action against a medical marijuana establishment agent and a marijuana establishment agent, authorizes civil penalties.
Nevada A 533 Act No. 595 relates to cannabis, creates the Cannabis Advisory Commission, prescribes the membership and duties of the Commission, creates the Cannabis Compliance Board, prescribes the membership and duties of the Board, transfers the authority to license and regulate persons and establishments engaged in certain activities relating to cannabis from the Department of Taxation to the Board, repeals, reenacting, revising and reorganizing certain provisions related to cannabis.
New Hampshire enacted H 634 Act No. 2019-35 to establish a commission to study the licensure of individuals who forage for wild mushrooms for sale to others.
Utah S 161 Act No. 341 amends provisions related to the Utah Medical Cannabis Act
With Congress legalizing the growing and sale of hemp, many states began to look into the production of hemp. One use for hemp is in food production. Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee enacted legislation focusing on the use of hemp in food.
Maine’s Food Products Containing Hemp (H 459 Act 12) clarifies that food containing hemp-derived cannabidiol that is produced and sold within the state is not considered to be adulterated, provides that the production, marketing, sale, or distribution of food or food products containing hemp may not be restricted or prohibited, changes references to the term of industrial hemp to hemp defines hemp to match the definition of hemp in the federal Agriculture Improvement Act.
In Minnesota, the 2019 budget bills call on the state’s Department of Agriculture to draft regulations regarding the public’s use of hemp.
In Nevada, the legislature enacted S 209 Act 374 which revises provisions relating to industrial hemp, replaces the term industrial hemp with the term hemp, requires the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt regulations requiring the testing and labeling of commodities and products made using hemp, prohibits the sale of such products unless they satisfy certain standards relating to testing and labeling. Nevada S 347 Act No. 414 revises provisions relating to hemp, provides requirements for the growth, handling, and production of hemp.
Oklahoma enacted S 868 Act 91 which modifies the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program, provides for a license to grow industrial hemp commercially, authorizes license holders to import seeds, clarifies statutory language, modifies harvest report requirements, and updates statutory language. Tennessee S 357 Act 87 seeks for the state Department of Agriculture to have primary regulatory authority over hemp production.
Tennessee S 537 Act No. 87 requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to submit a plan to the federal government for the state to have primary regulatory authority over hemp production as authorized by the federal Agricultural Improvement Act, establishes an administrative framework for the plan.
Cottage Foods or Food Freedom Laws
Cottage or Food Freedom laws are laws that restrict a government’s oversight regarding food safety; 59 bills were introduced in 2019, with 17 being enacted in 13 states.
These are foods made in small, kitchen-based operations with locally-grown produce designed for sale at farmers’ markets, roadside stands or small food operations. Cottage food laws provide regulatory relief to these operations, allowing vendors to sell their products absent food safety requirements required for commercial food kitchens.
Since the federal government has limited oversight regarding state food laws, it rarely preempts state efforts. The FDA Model Food Code does reference low-risk foods being safely prepared in homes and sold to the public at farmers’ markets or charity events as being less likely to require oversight. But the code affirms that potentially hazardous foods should be subject to regulatory oversight.
Each state has taken a different approach to cottage foods; in general, each law provides:
- Exemptions from licensing for small food producers that sell directly to consumers.
- Labeling requirements stating the product has not been inspected.
- Rules for handling potentially hazardous foods, such as those that need a certain cooking time or temperature to ensure safety.
- Training courses for people who prepare foods.
To date, every state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have enacted cottage food laws that exempt small-scale food production from regulatory oversight, with the exception of New Jersey.
Fifty-nine bills were introduced in the 2019 sessions to expand or define the scope of cottage food operations. Allowing for larger operations to be eligible for cottage food protections, permitting hazardous food products, and altering rules on food handling all were reviewed by state legislatures.
Arkansas S 590 Act No. 775 provides that a cottage food production operation in certain situations is exempt from the definition of foodservice establishment.
California’s A 377 Act 536 prohibits a microenterprise home kitchen operation from producing, manufacturing, processing, freezing, or packaging milk or milk products, including cheese and ice cream. The law prohibits a third-party delivery service from delivering microenterprise-produced food, except to an individual who has a physical or mental disability.
Connecticut’s S 233 Act 18 provides that a cottage food product does not include maple syrup or honey.
In Illinois, S 2068 Act 425 amends the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act by prohibiting a public health district from regulating the preparing and serving of food in a private residence that is prepared by or for the lessees and their guests.
Iowa's IA S 265 provides for the sale of culinary mushrooms, commonly referred to as a variety of wild golden oysters and classified as pleurotus ostreatus, pleurotus populinus, or pleurotus pulmonarious, at farmers markets.
Kentucky's KY H 468 Requires the Cabinet to further clarify which food products are subject to the definition of home-based processor and home-based microprocessor.
Maine's ME S 132 provides funds to the Department of Education to administer the Local Produce Fund and to provide a $1 match for every $3 expended by a school administrative unit for produce or minimally processed foods purchased directly from a farmer, farmers' cooperative, or local food hub in this state.
Maryland’s S 290 Act 370 alters the definition of cottage food products to include food sold to retail food stores or food cooperatives. The law requires the owner of a cottage food business to submit information to the Maryland Department of Health before selling a cottage food product to a retail food store. H 527 Act 370 alters the definition of cottage food products to include food sold to retail food stores or food cooperatives, which requires that a specific label be applied to cottage food products. H 522 Act 230 provides that certain regulations adopted by the Maryland Department of Health establishing a licensing system is a rescindable, rather than non-rescindable, alternative to certain regulation; extends, from 14 to 30, the number of consecutive days of operation authorized under a license to operate a temporary food service facility before the license expires; and authorizes the Department to adopt certain regulations governing excluded organizations.
In Montana, S 57 Act 87 removes the authority of the Department of Livestock to inspect and regulate home-killed meat.
Oklahoma's OK S 544 relates to sellers of food, relates to food establishment licenses and licenses for manufacturers, brokers and wholesalers of food and drugs, requires limit on fees for licensees who only sell at farmers' markets, provides an effective date.
Texas’ S 572 Act 590 relates to foods produced by a cottage food production operation and a cottage food industry study, requires cottage food production operations to include labels relating to food safety and restricts internet and mail-order sales. H 1694 Act 373 limits food regulations applied to farms, farmers' markets, and cottage food production operations.
Utah's UT S 161 Amends provisions related to the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, amends a provision regarding the transportation of cannabis and cannabis products to certain facilities, provides for testing of cannabis at additional stages of production, delays a provision during the decriminalization period that requires labeling with a barcode on a blister pack containing unprocessed cannabis flower, subjects appointees to the compassionate use board to Senate confirmation.
West Virginia’s S 285 Act 3 authorizes the production and sale of homemade food items under certain circumstances. The law establishes conditions for exemption from licensure, permitting, inspection, packaging, and labeling laws, provides required notices to the consumer, and permits local health departments to inspect reported foodborne illnesses. It also authorizes the Department of Agriculture to provide assistance, consultation, or inspection at the request of a producer.
One of the more interesting laws came from the legislature in Maine. Maine’s H 583 proposes an amendment to the Maine Constitution relating to rights to food and food sovereignty and freedom from hunger; declares that all individuals have a natural, inherent, and inalienable right to food, including the right to acquire, produce, process, prepare, preserve and consume and to barter, trade, and purchase the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being. The bill will be subject to a statewide vote.
Raw Milk and Dairy
Several states reviewed legislation related to dairy or raw milk. Many laws refer to the labeling of milk products. In 2019, 58 bills were introduced and eight enacted.
Arizona H 2178 Act No. 44 relates to milk manufacturing licenses, exempts from licensing requirements a food establishment regulated by the Department of Health Services to secure a license from the Division to manufacture frozen desserts using pasteurized milk or pasteurized milk-based products if the frozen dessert is manufactured and sold at the same food establishment for consumption on the premises and other specified conditions.
Arkansas H 1699 Act 846 amends the laws concerning sales of raw milk to authorize the sale of raw sheep milk.
California’s A 590 Act 304 revises provisions governing the administration of the Milk Producers Security Trust Fund to provide consistency with the Federal Milk Marketing Order. Requires an assessment on producers to defray the costs of administering these provisions. The law also revises the Dairy Council of California Law to refocus activities on research, communication, and education regarding the nutritional role of milk products.
Louisiana’s S 39 Act 184 prohibits the mislabeling of milk products, provides for enforcement by the Department of Health.
In Maryland, S 922 Act 530 prohibits a person from stating, on a label of a food product, that the product is milk unless the product meets the definition of milk.
Nebraska LR 13 urges the federal agencies of the U.S. Government responsible for food labeling to establish and enforce standards for the nomenclature of plant-based imitation milk and dairy food products. Similarly. Pennsylvania’s AR 222 urges the Congress of the United States and the United States Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action to defend this nation's dairy farmers by enforcing a standard of identity for the term milk.
New Jersey’s AR 156 urges the US Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce to increase the exportation of state dairy products to other nations.